It is no exaggeration to say that the capitalist class in the U.S. has, for well more than a century, worked hard to instill fear and hatred of immigrants in order to divert attention from the real problems it creates for those not born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
In the early years of industrialization, when the working class was first organizing unions to fight for better pay and working conditions, the powers that be targeted immigrant workers for ferocious repression. The Haymarket martyrs — four workers framed up and executed in Chicago in the 1880s for deaths at a police-inspired riot during a massive rally for the 8-hour day — were all immigrants. Another notorious case involved Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrants who were executed in 1927 after a notorious frameup trial in Boston.
Trump’s ranting against immigrants, to the point of shutting down the government in his effort to get Congress to fund his $5.7 billion wall, follows in this long, sordid tradition. This vicious bigot is holding hostage both government workers and the services they provide.
Yet even more painfully victimized by this ruling-class campaign are the migrants themselves, and especially their children. The news finally leaked out that small, vulnerable children were being snatched away from their parents at the border and held practically incommunicado for long periods. This has aroused great sympathy in the hearts of many in this country and led to countless protests and demonstrations to reunite them with their parents. The most recent reports reveal the government has not kept track of these children and doesn’t even know how many are still separated. Such disregard for families is a crime against humanity.
The billionaires who own this country do everything they can to direct public anger away from the fact that their class is responsible for the growing misery workers face here. The disgustingly super-rich badly need scapegoats and have made immigrants their target — even though the percentage of recent immigrants in the population is at one of its lowest levels ever.
It should never be forgotten that everyone here who is not Indigenous or Black is descended from immigrants. Black people were dragged here in chains, but most of the rest came willingly, looking for a better life.
That better life, however, is increasingly at risk as capitalism replaces labor with machines. What workers here need to know is that it is the profit system itself that is the cause of such great instability and growing misery today. That’s what is taking their jobs — not immigrants.
The irony is that the new technology now pushing workers onto the scrapheap could be used to make life better for everyone. An end to back-breaking labor? Great! An end to repetitive, mindless jobs? Terrific! The ability to produce food, clothing and shelter in abundance? Wonderful!
But not under capitalism. For every new robot or computer-driven machine, more workers lose their skilled jobs. With the spread of advanced technology comes the deskilling of more and more workers, the rise of the gig economy and a new kind of poverty based on part-time, temporary, low-paid work that won’t cover rent, food and transportation for one person, let alone a family.
The early victims of anti-immigrant hysteria in this country were often workers from Europe who were “infected” with ideas of a better society based on sharing instead of exploitation. Many of today’s immigrants, too, come with a history of organizing and fighting the bosses in the countries they left. Some of the best organizers of low-paid workers here have been immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia.
You can be sure that the bosses who put Trump in power know that. And while they often cringe at his outlandish behavior, they’re grateful for his anti-immigrant rhetoric which is aimed at disorienting workers here who have every reason to fight these super-rich parasites.